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Asian Art

Emperor Akbar’s Pet Ram

ca. 1585

Opaque watercolor on paper

without mounting: 5 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (13.4 × 19 cm)
with mounting: 12 5/16 × 15 1/4 in. (31.2 × 38.8 cm)
The Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, B.A. 1927, Collection, Gift of Mrs. John D. MacDonald
2001.138.30
This powerful ram, who sports a special chain and tufts dyed with henna, was most likely kept in the royal manger and cared for by a personal attendant. Rams of this type, distinguished by their dramatic black markings, are often known as Jacob sheep, a biblical reference to their origins in the Middle East. This painting may record a diplomatic gift to Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, who ruled from 1556 to 1605; the tradition of making “portraits” of unusual or favored animals continued in Mughal painting for centuries.
Geography: 
India
Culture: 
Indian, Islamic
Period: 
Mughal dynasty (1526–1857)
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, Boston, Mass. to 2001; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.